Posted by Fenil Seta
Actress will play a vibrant veteran in her directorial debut which rolls in the Himalayas in December
Roshmila Bhattacharya (MUMBAI MIRROR; May 20, 2017)
"Yes, I will play an 80-year-old woman in my first directorial, Teju,” Kangana Ranaut reveals with a delighted laugh, going on to add that Teju is a woman perched on the threshold of death but not yet ready to leave the world. “She is a warm, vibrant woman, full of life, who doesn’t feel old at all.”
The film rolls in December and is targeting a 2018-end release. The actress who is also scripting it, informs that it will touch on concerns like mortality, what lies beyond and the essence of existence but not in a way that is dark, depressing or boring. “These are questions that all of us ask ourselves and each other from time to time. We will explore them in a light-hearted manner in my film dappled with the sunshine of Teju’s personality,” promises Kangana.
She was raised by her great-grandparents because her brother Akshay came along soon after her and her mother found it difficult to look after both babies together. “By the time I was a toddler, my great-grandmother was in her eighties. I grew up around old people and it pains me to see senior citizens largely ignored in any community, society or country,” she sighs.
She asserts that for her it will be a beautiful experience to know how it feels to be 80 when she is still in her thirties. “Teju will be about every old person I know and have loved. It will also be a lot about me as I am older than my years. Today, unless I step out of my comfort zone, challenge myself as an actress, where is the need for me to leave my home, my family and my dog? I can live in comfort by simply cutting ribbons,” she points out.
Kangana goes on to reveal that she is an accidental actress who stumbled into this profession when Anurag Basu spotted her and cast her in his 2006 romantic crime-drama Gangster. She remembers how enamoured she was by her director, who being an actor himself, would simultaneously give cues to his actors, many of whom looked to her like alien entities, clueless in their creative space.
“Anu was the person in charge, discussing music with Pritam and shots with the DoP (Director of Photography). I was just a kid then, around 18 or 19, and more than the actors who were mostly concerned with their hair, costume and make-up, with their lines, phones and how much time before pack-up, I wanted to be like Anu,” reminisces the three-time National Award winner, who waited for over a decade to move to the other side of the camera.
She will be producing the film under her newly-launched banner, Manikarnika Films, jointly with her Tanu Weds Manu 1 and 2 and Simran producer-friend Shailesh Singh. And since like Maria in Sound of Music she is a girl from the mountains, it will be shot in the Himalayas.
As a little girl, Kangana remembers being dazzled by the mountains as much when they were shrouded in the clouds as when they were seen in all their magnificence on a clear spring day. And for her first directorial, she will return to these picture perfect hills and dales of Himachal Pardesh.
“Teju will showcase Himachali life and culture which have largely gone unexplored in our mainstream cinema as filmmakers only use my part of the country as a beautiful setting for their songs. My film will be a visual treat but it will also give you a glimpse into my life before Bollywood, into the real Kangana whom few have known in all these years,” she signs off with a smile.
‘There are no contracts’
Ketan Mehta has sent a legal notice accusing Kangana Ranaut, whom he had been in contact with since 2015 after approaching her to play the lead in one of his most ambitious projects, the Hindi-English bi-lingual, Rani of Jhansi: The Warrior Queen, of knowingly hijacking the project in collusion with producer Kamal Jain. He has asked for work on her film, Manikarnika, based on the same subject, to stop as he plans to go ahead with his project.
Responding to the allegation that she has unethically sharing 10-years worth of research material with her new team, Kangana says, “There is no similarity in the story and screenplay of Mr Mehta and the story and screenplay of my producer Kamal Jain. He is free to make the film, as is anyone else, based on a revered historical figure, Rani Lakshmi Bai.” She goees on to state, “Our lawyers have sent an interim response to Mr Mehta’s lawyers. There are no contracts or agreements signed with Mr Mehta.”